The Trump campaign has found an unusual person to blame in wake of Melania Trump’s speech plagiarism scandal: Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump’s wife, 46, delivered her oration at the Republican National Convention, and people on social media quickly noticed that it had remarkable similarities to Michelle Obama’s 2008 remarks at the Democratic National Convention.
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” Trump’s top aide Paul Manafort told CNN. “These are common words and values — that she cares about her family, things like that. She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night; she knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy,” he said, adding that the words “are not unique.”
Instead of placing the blame on a Trump speechwriter or anyone within the campaign, he tried to pin it on Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton. “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks to demean her and take her down,” Manafort said. “It’s not going to work.”
The campaign chairman also told reporters in Cleveland that “there’s a political tint” to the plagiarism accusations. “Certainly we’ve noted the Clinton camp was the first to get it out there in trying to say there was something untoward about the speech Melania Trump gave,” Manafort said during a Tuesday, July 19, press conference. “It’s just another example, as far as we’re concerned, that when Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person.”
Clinton’s director of communications, Jennifer Palmieri, hit back on Twitter, writing, “Nice try, not true. @PaulManafort, blaming Hillary Clinton isn’t the answer for ever[y] Trump campaign problem.” Clinton has yet to comment on the issue.
Journalist Jarrett Hill seemed to be the first to flag the similarities in a tweet, according to The New York Times. He pointed out that a paragraph from Melania’s speech concerning family values and teaching lessons to their children was nearly identical to one from the first lady’s speech.
“My parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise; that you treat people with respect,” Melania said in her remarks.
The sentences were strikingly reminiscent of lines Michelle delivered while supporting then-Senator Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. “Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect,” the FLOTUS said in her speech.
Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller released a statement in the early hours of Tuesday, July 19, defending Melania’s address. “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” he said. "Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Prior to her speech on Monday, Melania told Matt Lauer in an interview for NBC News that she wrote it “with a[s] little help as possible” and reread it once on the plane heading to the convention in Cleveland.
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